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When is a Novel not a Novel: When It is Used to Teach Political Science
Unformatted Document Text:  justifies minimal administration (the PDC), however, this does not extend to individuals: “They do not govern persons” (76). Individuals “choose work according to interests, talent, and strength” (17). A classic utopia indeed; well, maybe not. The non-utopian elements on Anarres appear, at first, as little things. Someone gets a private room (110); someone gets an extra desert (111). Less subtle is the reality of centralization that stands in marked contrast to the decentralization of Odonian thought. Bedap chides Shev for his naïveté: “We forgot that the will to dominance is as central in human beings as the impulse to mutual aid” (167-168). More pointedly, Bedap cites Tomar’s definition of government to illustrate how Anarres had fallen from its utopian ideal. “Government: The legal use of power to maintain and extend power. Replace legal with customary and you’ve got Sabul, and the Syndicate, and the PDC” (166). Bedap’s mention of Sabul is critical because it is Sabul who, out of jealousy, takes partial credit for Shev’s first book (114, 117), refuses to recommend Shev’s second book for publication (238), and has Shev kicked out of the Abbenay Institute and reassigned during the drought (265). As decentralization turned out to be a mirage, so did individual freedom. Censorship is evident in the refusal to publish or perform Salas’s compositions (174). The censorship takes on a more sinister quality when Tirin writes an Anti-Odonian play and is sent to an asylum (169, 328). Near the end of the novel,perhaps reflecting on the subtitle “An Ambiguous Utopia,” Le Guin crystallizes the dichotomy between theory and the practice. Shev’s wife, Takver, intones the ideal: “I don’t have to do anything, I make my own choices, I’m free” (329). On the very next page, Shev has come to the realization that “the social conscience completely dominates the individual conscience. We don’t cooperate – we obey.” (330).

Authors: Connor, George.
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justifies minimal administration (the PDC), however, this does not extend to individuals:
“They do not govern persons” (76). Individuals “choose work according to interests,
talent, and strength” (17). A classic utopia indeed; well, maybe not.
The non-utopian elements on Anarres appear, at first, as little things. Someone
gets a private room (110); someone gets an extra desert (111). Less subtle is the reality
of centralization that stands in marked contrast to the decentralization of Odonian
thought. Bedap chides Shev for his naïveté: “We forgot that the will to dominance is as
central in human beings as the impulse to mutual aid” (167-168). More pointedly, Bedap
cites Tomar’s definition of government to illustrate how Anarres had fallen from its
utopian ideal. “Government: The legal use of power to maintain and extend power.
Replace legal with customary and you’ve got Sabul, and the Syndicate, and the
PDC” (166). Bedap’s mention of Sabul is critical because it is Sabul who, out of
jealousy, takes partial credit for Shev’s first book (114, 117), refuses to recommend
Shev’s second book for publication (238), and has Shev kicked out of the Abbenay
Institute and reassigned during the drought (265). As decentralization turned out to be a
mirage, so did individual freedom. Censorship is evident in the refusal to publish or
perform Salas’s compositions (174). The censorship takes on a more sinister quality
when Tirin writes an Anti-Odonian play and is sent to an asylum (169, 328). Near the
end of the novel,perhaps reflecting on the subtitle “An Ambiguous Utopia,” Le Guin
crystallizes the dichotomy between theory and the practice. Shev’s wife, Takver, intones
the ideal: “I don’t have to do anything, I make my own choices, I’m free” (329). On the
very next page, Shev has come to the realization that “the social conscience completely
dominates the individual conscience. We don’t cooperate – we obey.” (330).


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